Advocates calling for clemency for man convicted in 1994 murder

BOSTON — William Allen was just 20 years old when he was charged with felony murder of Purvis Bester after participating in an armed robbery in 1994.

His friend, Ronaldo Perry, pleaded guilty to killing Bester, took a deal and was released on parole 11 years ago.

Allen denied the deal, pleaded not guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.

New England Patriots player Devin McCourty was moved by his story.

“I really know why I’m here, I got to talk to William yesterday and I got to see just how good of a person he is. I got to see a guy who told us about his dreams of wanting to be a chef and an accountant one day,“” says McCourty.

At a news conference Wednesday, McCourty and advocates are calling on Gov. Charlie Baker to grant Allen clemency at a hearing scheduled for June allowing for his conviction to stand, and releasing him after 27 years.

Allen’s father, Thurston, was overwhelmed by the support.

“I feel like he deserves this. This is something that he really deserves,” says Thurston Allen.

McCourty said, “He was the light in that room and he brought and he brought a lot of light and a lot of inspiration to me.“

Attorney Chris MacDonald said Allen has been a model prisoner and is currently serving his time at the Old Colony Correctional Center.

“He is not seeking to erase his conviction through a pardon. He fully accepts responsibility, and he carries great remorse for his role in this tragedy,” said MacDonald. “He’s participated in every available restorative justice program. He volunteers at every opportunity whenever he can, to do everything from shoveling snow to encouraging other incarcerated men to take the COVID vaccine, to cleaning the showers in the COVID unit.“

Allen’s clemency hearing is the first scheduled in the state since 2014.

The ACLU’s Rahsaan Hall said the hope is Allen’s story will open the door for others.

“How do we have so many people incarcerated and encourage them to take advantage of the opportunities or the programming that is in these correctional facilities, if there’s nothing on the other end for them?“ said Hall.

Hall says a 2017 decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court would mean Allen could no longer be charged in a joint venture.

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